Home HealthTopics Health Centers Reference Library Research
Join us on Facebook Join us on Facebook Share on Facebook

Anesthesia

Anesthesia

05/14/2007

Question:

I have a fear of being put to sleep. I remember on two occasions where I have been put under general anesthesia and I didn`t wake up until several hours later (I slept for over 10 hours after the surgery). The one case I remember to most clearly was when I had an obdominal circloge (I know I mis-spelled the word). My doctor at the time was one of the only doctors who preformed that kind of abdominal procedure. I remember that I had to be in the hospital at 7am. The procedure, I was told, was going to take aprox. 2-3 hours becasue at the time I was already pregnant(only weeks if I remember correctly) and they were trying to make sure that my body didn`t abort this pregnancy like it had in the past due to an incompetant cervix. I remember going into surgey around 9-10 am but something happended during surgery. I didn`t wake up until a little before midnight the same day. My doctor told me he had never been so scared because I was young, and healthy but my pressure dropped. I had to be put on a breathing machine because I stopped breathing on my own. He was baffled. He and the head of anesthesology who also was present during my surgery said they had to figure out what happened. The next day the head of anesthesology visited me in my hospital room and told me the name of my problem/allergy if I can call it that... it was a long name but I can`t remember exactly what it was other than it start with a "d" and have like 10 -12 letters in it. I know it was a very long word I`m thinking of because I`ve always remembered something with a "d" and being long. He said he would e-mail it to me so that I would always know but he didn`t. I came home from the hospital and didnt check my e-mail for weeks since I was put on bed rest with my pregnancy. My pregnancy was a success (after the circloge) and I kinda forgotten about it until recently while watching Oprah and a well know doctor on the panel stated all women need to know their medical history. The doctor who performed my procedure has since left the hospital. The name of this condition is no where in my medical file becasue my obgyn has been the same for several years. He was the one who referred me to the doctor to perform the cervix surgery. No one knows what I`m talking about and the people that were in the room I can`t contact them. Even if I could its been 6 1/2 years and I know they have had 100s or 1000s of patients since me. I need to know what it was during the anesthesia that I was allergic too. Have you heard of such a thing...

Answer:

Oprah, as always, is right! It's very important to keep your own records of your medical history.

Hospitals do keep their records for a number of years - they are obliged to do so by law. So you may still be able to get the information you need from hospital records of the anesthesia, surgery and postoperative care.

My best guess is that you have so-called pseudocholinesterase deficiency. This is an uncommon, but well known genetic condition in which the enzyme that breaks down a drug called succinylcholine is either absent or decreased in amount or activity. The drug therefore lasts a long time, meaning that the patient is paralyzed, often for several hours. The treatment of this prolonged recovery is "supportive"- in other words, we breathe for you with a ventilator (breathing machine). You are paralyzed and unable to move or breathe so you will also be given sedation for comfort and amnesia. Eventually you recover from the drug-induced paralysis - and may wonder what on earth happened!

Pseudocholinesterase deficiency is not associated with low blood pressure, so that unfortunately does not fit the picture. This condition can be detected with a blood test - ask your doctor, or better still contact the hospital where you had your procedure and ask for the head of the department of anesthesiology. Pseudocholinesterase deficiency is something that gets anesthesiologists quite excited so I'm sure he or she will be happy to take your query.

By the way, the surgical procedure you had was a "cerclage" - a treatment, as you indicated, for an incompetent cervix (the cervix opens during pregnancy, resulting in miscarriage).

For more information:

Go to the Anesthesia health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Gareth S Kantor, MD Gareth S Kantor, MD
Assistant Professor of Anesthesiology
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University